Wednesday, May 20, 2009

what I found out this week

a few intriguing things I found out in the last few days:

* thanks to the new "algorithmic" search engine Wolfram alpha I can now check up where the space probe pioneer 10 is at the moment.

* also intrigued to find that Wolfram alpha gives the result in miles by default, although it generously offers metric conversion as an option.

* the oldest sculptures of human figures, such as the "Hohle Fels Venus" reported in the current issue of Nature, date from about the same time as the extinction of the Neanderthals. Now I wonder whether there is a causal connection, and if so, in which direction. Did Neanderthals die out because they weren't imaginative enough to compete in the arts scene? Or did Cro-Magnon relax from the stress of wiping out the competition by carving sexy figurines? We may never find out.

* on page 183 of the same issue, I discovered that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch appears to be a proper geographic name now, as Nature spells it with capitals. Previous generations got to name islands, volcanoes and ocean currents. All that's left on this planet for us to put geographic names to is garbage. Sign of the times ?

* What I still haven't found out but need to know, is whether Tycho Brahe was murdered, and who did it. Any clues, let me know.

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